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294                 HISTORY OF PERSIA                CHAP.
produce an effect of great richness. The border is
frequently composed of verses most artistically woven into
the picture ; and here it may be noted that the Persian
painter is also frequently a calligraphist, and that no other
people are so skilled in using the alphabet for decorative
purposes. The failure would appear to be that the figures
never tell their own story from the expression, but resemble
waxen figures set in exquisite surroundings. Nature is
not studied for its own beauty, but in order to explain
the subject of the picture, and to act as a sympathetic and
illustrative background.
The themes of the Persian artist are few in number
and are generally confined to well-known events such
as the meeting between Khusru and Shirin, and Majnun
and Layla. During the Safavi period European figures
were introduced. Religious subjects were rarely attempted.
The Persian painter groups badly, but draws well. His
figures are less important than the accessories, such as
clothes, jewelry and weapons, which are reproduced with
infinite pains. The colouring is excellent and the re-
sults are distinctly pleasing, although apt to strike the
European as unfamiliar and at times as bordering on the
grotesque.1
Metal Work.—The genius of Persia, so strongly ex-
pressed in ceramics and textiles, was equally visible in
metal work of every kind. In shape, and above all in
decoration, the Persian metal worker was unsurpassed,
and his armour and swords enjoyed a wide reputation.
To this Marco Polo testifies : " They are very skilful in
making harness of war; their saddles, bridles, spurs,
swords, bows, quivers, and arms of every kind are very
well made." Vessels of all sorts abound, from the drink-
ing-cup of the poor man to the great cauldron of the
'rich,.and in them all there is a beauty of form and design
which is most attractive. ( Of modern art, the gold and
silver filigree work of Zenjan and the Khatamkari^ or
mosaics, of Shiraz are worthy of attention ; nor can the
carved spoons of Abadeh be omitted from any list, how-
ever brief. )
1 These remarks are based on the review of Martin's work in The Times,